LAFC: We're chasing more than Western Conference title

Carlos Vela - LAFC - action

CHESTER, Pa. – As the Philadelphia Union enter what could be a photo finish in the Eastern Conference race, LAFC come into Saturday’s contest (7:30 pm ET | TV & streaming info) at Talen Energy Stadium with the Western Conference already wrapped up and the Supporters’ Shield trophy within touching distance. 

Even still, the league leaders carry a three-game winless streak, their longest of the season. 

“Certainly the Supporters’ Shield is very important to us, not only because of what it means in terms of seeding, but we consider that to be one of the big trophies that you compete for from the start,” LAFC head coach Bob Bradley said. “Really it’s just a continuation of good training and enjoying what happens every day, trying to take the different ideas that we think are important to continue to improve and keep pushing them every day.”

One big question mark heading into the game is the status of Carlos Vela, who missed the last two games with a hamstring injury, though returned to training earlier this week. Vela is on 27 goals, four shy of tying Josef Martinez’s record-setting goal haul (31) from a season ago. 

“We’re still sizing up exactly how he feels, so I don’t have an answer yet for what it means for the game,” Bradley said Wednesday. “But we’re all encouraged to see him back in regular training.” 

While a cross-country trip to Philadelphia often presents its own set of challenges, LAFC flew to Philadelphia on Sunday after a 2-2 draw with Orlando City. They’ve been training in Chester all week, looking to rebound for the regular season’s final stretch.

“We want to get back to the winning ways,” left back Jordan Harvey said. “You need that confidence going into the playoffs and we’re thankful to have wrapped up the West, but we want more, we want a trophy, we want Supporters’ Shield. That’s what we’re gunning for now and then it’s onto playoffs.”

LAFC clinched the Western Conference crown and a spot in the 2020 Concacaf Champions League with Minnesota United’s 2-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday night. But this team carries bigger goals, according to goalkeeper Tyler Miller.

“There’s still work to be done,” Miller said. “We know that teams are still coming for us and when we play against somebody they’re going to give us their best. We expect the same out of Philly, who has had a very good season so far.”